2333 Knob Creek Rd Suite 10
Johnson City, TN 37604

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What is a palatal expander?
A palatal expander serves to widen a narrow palate (upper jaw) to prepare the mouth for permanent teeth to grow with a sufficient amount of room.

This appliance “expands” the upper jaw by exerting gentle, outward pressure on the upper molars through frequent adjustments or activations. Over time, gentle activations successfully expand the upper jaw to a healthy width that allows the teeth to grow without crowding or overlapping.

Who needs a palatal expander?

Palatal expanders are best suited for children whose jaw bones are still developing. The palatal expander age generally ranges from 7 to 12 years old. It’s ideal to widen the palate with an expander when the jaw bones aren’t fully developed yet, because growing bones are impressionable and more receptive to treatment. We call this growth modification!

Adults can still benefit from palatal expanders, but they sometimes require an implant-supported palatal expander or a surgically-assisted expander when the jaw bones have already stabilized.

Signs that You May Need a Palatal Expander
Different Types of Palatal Expanders
The different types of palatal expanders include rapid palatal expanders, removable palatal expanders, surgically-assisted palatal expanders, and implant-supported palatal expanders.

The rapid palatal expander (RPE) is used for mild to severe cases. This expander utilizes metal bands that fit around the top, back teeth, with a screw in the middle. During your expander treatment, you’ll activate this screw using a special key that expands the device with a subtle force. Each day you’ll activate the expander, and little-by-little, the RPE will expand the two palatal bones to successfully widen the upper jaw. Always follow Dr. Jewett’s instructions!

A removable palatal expander is used for mild to moderate cases, when a patient only requires a little jaw expansion. This type of expander looks like a Hawley retainer, and is made out of acrylic or metal. Removable expanders work similarly to the RPE, but they are not bonded (cemented) to the teeth. If a removable palatal expander is best for your case, Dr. Jewett will instruct you on the length of your treatment period.

Implant-supported palatal expanders are also used for moderate to severe cases, and are typically used for adults whose jaw bones are fully grown. An implant expander uses four mini implants, embedded into the maxillary bone to effectively widen the palate.

Surgically-assisted palatal expanders are used for moderate to severe cases, and are typically used for adults whose jaw bones are fully developed. With this device, a jaw surgery is required to loosen the sutures that allow the appliance to widen the jaw.

How a Palatal Expander Works

Palatal expanders have metal bands that fit around the back molars, with a screw mechanism in the center. (This is the screw you’ll activate daily using a special key).

You’ll insert the key into the center of the palatal expander, then rotate the key backwards, toward your throat. A complete rotation backwards is one full turn. Each complete turn, or activation, expands the appliance and widens the upper jaw ever so slightly.

Dr. Jewett will tell you how often to activate your palatal expander, based on his assessment of your teeth and bite.

Once your palate has successfully expanded to the desired width, you’ll continue to wear the appliance for several months to solidify the expansion and prevent your jaw bones from reverting to their previous position.

Palatal Expander Side Effects

Although the expansion process can sound a bit daunting, you won’t experience any palatal expander pain during your treatment! The device is custom-designed to fit the specific width of your jaw, and it won’t expand until you activate it.

Each time you turn the key, you may experience a slight tingling sensation around your teeth and the bridge of your nose. This is a common palatal expander side effect that subsides after a few minutes.

It’s normal to experience some minor discomfort the first week with your palatal expander. That’s just because your teeth aren’t used to this new appliance yet! After about a week, you should be well adjusted to your expander.

Palatal Expander Cost
There isn’t a fixed palatal expander cost, because this appliance is included in your treatment plan.

The cost will depend on the length of your treatment, the severity of your condition, and whether or not you require additional treatment outside of the expander.

At your first visit to our Johnson City office, Dr. Jewett will create a custom treatment plan that helps you to achieve a healthy and beautiful smile, but also meets your financial needs!

We believe everyone should have access to affordable, high-quality orthodontic treatment. With a variety of affordable payment plans, we have an option to suit your financial situation.

Palatal Expander Cost
There isn’t a fixed palatal expander cost, because this appliance is included in your treatment plan.

The cost will depend on the length of your treatment, the severity of your condition, and whether or not you require additional treatment outside of the expander.

At your first visit to our Johnson City office, Dr. Jewett will create a custom treatment plan that helps you to achieve a healthy and beautiful smile, but also meets your financial needs!

We believe everyone should have access to affordable, high-quality orthodontic treatment. With a variety of affordable payment plans, we have an option to suit your financial situation.

Still have questions about palatal expanders?

We want to hear from you! If you know you require a palatal expander, have crowded teeth, or you experience trouble breathing or sleeping, we want to help.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at our Johnson City office. If you’re ready to get started, schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Jewett for you or your child today!